Planning for Platt Road Site Moves Ahead

A broad community planning process for the future of Platt Road property owned by Washtenaw County will move forward, following approval by the county board of commissioners at its Feb. 19, 2014 meeting. With three commissioners absent from the 9-member body, the board voted unanimously to give final approval to a set of recommendations made by a citizens advisory group. Initial approval had been given on Feb. 5, 2014.

The 13.5-acre site at 2260 and 2270 Platt Road formerly housed the juvenile center. The advisory committee, which was created by the board on Sept. 18, 2013 and met three times late last year, recommended that the county use a $100,000 grant from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to fund a community design process for the property.

The committee recommended that the county keep the property until a design process is completed, according to a committee report. Specifically:

The CAC identified through consensus a number of principles that could apply to the site including demonstration for green technologies and sustainable design, mixed use, mixed income including affordable and moderately priced housing, minimized parking spaces, alternative transit, varied types and forms of housing for people of different ages, an urban village, less impervious surface, lower auto footprint, integration with neighborhood, visionary design, draws people to the site, opportunities to grow businesses, and connections to County Farm Park. In order to fit into its surroundings, the final composition of this site should serve to transition from the commercial aspects of Washtenaw Ave., the residential aspects of the local neighborhoods and the natural aspects of the County Park facility. Finally, it should incorporate uses that reflect its value as a county property and bring the opportunity of use or value for all Washtenaw County residents.

Debate on the resolution at the board’s Feb. 5 meeting had focused on a resolved clause that would commit the county to using a portion of the property for affordable housing. That’s a condition of accepting the $100,000 planning grant from MSHDA. The grant is part of a $3 million federal grant awarded to the county in 2011 and administered by the county’s office of community & economic development (OCED).

The resolved clause stated:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board of Commissioners directs the CAC to assist in hosting an intensive multi-day community design process to create a plan for the site, inclusive of affordable housing;

On Feb. 19, Ronnie Peterson (D-District 6) raised some of the same concerns he’d voiced on Feb. 5, but discussion was cut off when Dan Smith (R-District 2) called the question – a parliamentary move to force a vote. Peterson then voted along with other commissioners in support of the resolution.

The resolution also directed the advisory committee to provide more detailed analysis and recommendations by Sept. 31, 2014.

Committee members are: Ron Emaus, Jeannine Palms, Vickie Wellman, Rob Burroughs, Amy Freundl, Pete Vincent, Christopher Taylor (Ann Arbor city councilmember), and Jennifer Hall (Ann Arbor housing commission director). Also serving on the committee were Washtenaw County staff members Meghan Bonfiglio of the county parks & recreation commission; Greg Dill, director of infrastructure management; and Mary Jo Callan, director of the office of community & economic development. County commissioners on the committee are Yousef Rabhi and Andy LaBarre, who both represent districts in Ann Arbor.

This brief was filed from the boardroom of the county administration building at 220 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor. A more detailed report will follow: [link]